THE "MISSING MAN" TOAST
Your attention is directed to the small table located in a place of honor near the head of the banquet hall. It is a way of symbolizing the fact that some of our friends are missing from our midst.
They are unable to be with us this evening and so
we remember them.
The table, set for one, is small - it symbolizes the
frailty of us all.
The tablecloth is white - symbolic of the purity of
their intentions to respond to their country's call to
The single rose displayed in a vase reminds us of
the families and loved ones of our comrades who
will not return.
The red ribbon, tied so prominently on the vase, is
reminiscent of the red ribbon worn upon the lapel
and breast of thousands who bear witness to the
tragedy of POW's and MIA's and, with unyielding
determination, demand a proper accounting for our missing.
A slice of lemon rests on the plate - to remind us of
their bitter fate.
There is salt upon the plate - symbolic of the tears
of families and loved ones.
The glass is inverted - they cannot toast with us
The chair is forever empty - they are not here.
Tonight we take time to recall those who were our
comrades-in-arms, we depended on them for aid
Let us remember all of our missing crewmembers
and honor them as we stand for a moment of
(The Toast at the 18th Reunion of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, VHPA.org, Denver, Colorado, July Fourth, 2001)
Goodbye My Hero